Francis - Knight of Assisi
Today many in the Church pause to remember Francis of Assisi. He is one of the most popular saints. Many do not know of his desire for military glory. Here is an excerpt from a biograpy on St Francis by Ashley McFadden
Francis always felt he was destined for greatness. He thought at first it was through knighthood, chivalry and marching off to wars in a suit of armor too heavy for his fragile and slender body. He tried this approach, going to a war that broke out in Perugia in 1200. Leaving Assisi, he soon he found himself caught and thrown in prison along with other young men who only a few days before had thought life was for pleasure and fun. It was a harsh awakening in the cold and freezing bottom of a dungeon.
Francis had health problems since childhood and must have suffered greatly from the stinging cold, and yet he remained cheerful in spite of the chains around his ankles and wrists. The others became annoyed by his good humor under such horrible circumstances and asked him why he was so happy. Celano says his answer was this: "I rejoice because some day I shall be venerated as a saint all over the world." This from the lips of a man who to this point had not lived a saintly life, yet it shows the conversion coming upon him in sudden spurts and starts. After a year in prison, Francis, who had become extremely ill, was released and returned home at the age of twenty-two. His youth was gone.
Francis would not experience his conversion until the age of twenty-six and so he had a few years to keep God waiting. He recuperated from his captivity under constant care and when he was well, he dreamed still of military glory and chivalry. He managed to spend his father's money on the expensive armor, horse and all the paraphernalia necessary for a grand departure in honor of Christendom and the fourth crusade. Barely able to hold himself up under the heavy armor, he hit the road. It was a short journey. A voice came to him one night that told him to return home where he was born and that he would be told later what to do.
In the Order on our Purpose page we quote Francis who said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words."
Today would be a good time to sing Francis' Canticle to Brother Sun:
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven Your formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be Your, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.
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